The Catholic website “FishEaters” has a terrific article on MODESTY. We repost it here.
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 19:26-27: “A man is known by his look, and a wise man, when thou meetest him, is known by his countenance. The attire of the body, and the laughter of the teeth, and the gait of the man, shew what he is.”
I Timothy 2:9-10: “In like manner women also in decent apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire, But as it becometh women professing godliness, with good works.”
Modesty, like continence, humility, and meekness, is annexed to the cardinal virtue Temperance (Wisdom 8:7) and has the reining in of human passions as its goal. Modesty aims to conform the exterior of man — his clothing, way of talking, his bearing — to the interior sense of humility that all Christians should have.
Genesis 3:6-7, 13-21
And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband, who did eat… And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons… And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. To the woman also He said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam He said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee, that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work: with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. And Adam called the name of his wife Eve: because she was the mother of all the living. And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.
God made Adam and Eve perfect and perfectly harmonious — with Himself and with each other. Then they sinned and saw themselves as they then were — fallen, separated from God and from each other. Having lost the grace with which they were created, they began to retreat into their own egos and blame each other, even God, for their sins: “the serpent deceived me,” “the woman you sent deceived me,” etc. The original harmony of the Garden broken, Adam and Eve no longer completed the other perfectly per God’s design, but were now in felt need of each other, a need they tried to fill by grasping the other through their concupiscence and brokenness. Their relationship was now tainted, and shame filled them as their nakedness came to be a sign of their incompleteness and vulnerability, and an inducement to lust. Sensing their isolation from each other and from God, they covered themselves with quickly-fashioned aprons. Then God Himself clothed them, replacing those fig leaf aprons with tunics (tunicas in the Vulgate, ktnvt in the Hebrew).
Given all the talk about the shame of immodesty, one might get the impression that the Church sees the body as a “bad” thing, and that we cover ourselves because we are ugly. But this is not the case! Adam and Eve didn’t cover themselves because they were created “bad” or “ugly”; they covered themselves because, through the Fall, they no longer reflected what God made them to be: perfect complements of one another and the perfect image of their Creator. In covering themselves, they attempted to recover the dignity that they’d lost.
The Church, on the contrary, does not censure or condemn styles when they are meant for the proper decorum and ornamentation of the body, but She never fails to warn the faithful against being easily led astray by them.
This positive attitude of the Church derives from reasons far higher than the mere aesthetic or hedonistic considerations which have been assumed by a renewed paganism. The Church knows and teaches that the human body, which is God’s masterpiece in the visible world, and which has been placed at the service of the soul, was elevated by the Divine Redeemer to the rank of a temple and an instrument of the Holy Spirit, and as such must be respected. The body’s beauty must therefore not be exalted as an end in itself, much less in such guise as will defile the dignity it has been endowed with.
No, the body is not an evil thing (though it is quite prone to evil and must be ruled by the head); it is “God’s masterpiece in the visible world,” elevated by the Christ — Who Himself took on human flesh — and made a temple at Baptism. Further, Jesus raised marriage to the level of a Sacrament, restoring it to what it was “in the beginning” (Matthew 19:8). In marriage, the man and woman can stand before each other naked, with no shame at all, just as Adam and Eve did “in the beginning.” Outside of that marriage covenant and the “Eden” of holy matrimony, however, revealing the body immodestly is shameful and leads to a lust that doesn’t honor the other in all ways as a person, but degrades him or her as an object. Only in marriage, where the spouse is a total gift — body and soul — to the other, is there no shame in revealing the vulnerability of our incompleteness.
An analogy: the very word “modesty” comes from the Latin modus, which means limit; clothing limits accessibility to that should only be given in marriage. Now, think of fire: is fire “bad”? No, fire warms us, cooks our food, enchants us with its beauty, and so on; but an uncontrolled fire, a fire without limit, destroys. It is the same with the body (and sex): modesty sets limits on the unveiling of what is goodso that it does not destroy. To be immodest is to eradicate those limits and to give to the world that to which it has no right but belongs to one’s spouse alone. It is to profane what should be treated as holy and to cheapen the gift of oneself.
In the article on veiling, I note that the things that are considered holy are veiled, e.g., the ciborium, the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, etc. We must regain the Christian view that our bodies are worthy of such veiling. Resist what our post-“Enlightenment” culture tries to tell us, and don’t believe that our bodies are commodities to be displayed and bought and sold. That view rests on the lie of dualism which sees our bodies as something apart from who “we” are. But we are not “souls with bodies” or “bodies with souls”; we are a unity of soul and body, a unity that must be treated as a unity.
The soul is created at the moment of our conception, and even after death this profound link between body and soul remains (which is why Christians value relics of the Saints). At the Last Judgement, our bodies will be resurrected and, if we die in a state of grace, glorified. We cannot treat our bodies as “things” that we “own”; they are a fundamental part of who we are. Accordingly, our exterior should reflect the soul, and a Christian’s soul calls for his to be body adorned in a Christian manner, with modesty, dignity, and holiness in mind.
For a woman, reflecting her human dignity entails understanding how her humanity is uniquely feminine. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand speaks well of this and recalls the fourth chapter of Solomon’s Canticle of Canticles when she wrote:
…there is something extraordinarily great and mysterious about femininity. And why do I say it is so great and so mysterious? Because you all know that every little girl that is born, is born with a seal, so to speak, protecting the mystery of her femininity, which is the womb. There is a seal and if you understand, a seal always indicates something which is sacred. The seal, which doesn’t exist in the male body, is profoundly symbolic and says this belongs to God in a special way. This is a sphere which is so beautiful and so profound that it cannot be touched upon, except with God’s permission, in a Catholic marriage.
When a girl or young woman is permitted to give the keys of this mysterious domain, this closed garden, to her husband-to-be, she says: “Up until now I have kept this garden virginal, now God has given me the keys and is allowing me to give them to you and I know that you will penetrate into it, with trembling reverence and gratitude”. The moment that a woman is embraced by her husband and a few hours afterwards she conceives, in this very moment, something absolutely amazing happens which once again illuminates the greatness of femininity. Neither husband nor wife can create a human soul. God alone can.
Of course there is the male seed and there is the female egg. These are material realities that God has put into the bodies and when they are united, an amazing thing happens. God creates a new human soul, totally new, which never existed before. Where? In the mystery of the female body. This is where the soul is conceived. It has nothing to do with the husband. The husband is out of the game at this point and the very moment that God creates a soul he implies that there is a special contact between God and the female body, so to speak, touching it in creating it. Once again, what an extraordinary privilege.
We’ve all heard people who, when confronted with calls for modesty, love to go on about their “rights.” “I have a right to dress any way I want, and only have to please myself! Don’t judge! You think I dress like a slut, but that doesn’t make me one!”
Well, the exercising of one’s political “rights” has consequences. People have political “rights” to do a lot of things that are unwise. One has a “right” never to bathe, too, but has no “right” to expect others to think one smells like roses. It would obviously be a logical fallacy to state as a proof that one who dresses like a slut necessarily sells her body for profit; but a woman who dresses that way is just as obviously dressing as someone who does.
The fact is, we are judged by our appearances — sometimes too harshly (“her skirt is 1/2 inch too short!”), sometimes for evil reasons (“look at her clothes; she obviously has no money!”), and sometimes for ridiculous standards that a person has no control over (“her nose is too big!”), sometimes by people who haven’t removed the beam from their own eye. Appearance is often held to be the only thing of value, in a woman especially — an attitude that causes great suffering to women who don’t look like the models in magazines (no one looks like that, by the way; airbrushing, soft lights, surgery, and make-up lie). And some women can be completely catty, turning “looking good” into a huge competition, and dishing dirt on other women’s looks in order to put them down.
Nonetheless, the things we do have control over can rightfully be deemed to be expressive of who we are. The Jerry Springer people who admonish the audience with an upturned palm and a “don’t judge!” when the latter laughs at their circus freak attire really need to ask themselves what they are trying to tell the world by dressing like circus freaks in the first place. If you don’t want the world to think of you and treat you like a circus freak, or a slut, or what have you, then don’t dress in a way that invites it.
The way we dress is simply a part of how we communicate to the world. Of all the people in the world, the Catholic should know this intuitively. We worship using gesture and posture and a million things that are not based on word alone, such as bells and incense and art. This strange “disconnect” between the verbal and non-verbal on which our modern culture expects us to base our ways of being and seeing is simply not human and not rooted in the Truth of the body-soul unity mentioned above.
Fashions today often tend to be about putting out the message, “I am sexy! Look at me! Want me! Look how ‘hot’ I am!” Now, a person can look as “hot” as she wants for her spouse (here’s what St. Thomas Aquinas says about that), but for a person to want to induce lust in strangers is — well, it’s evil. Our Lord said that “whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28) — and adultery is a mortal sin. Why would a person want to tempt a another to mortal sin?
But every man is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured. Then, when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin. But sin, when it is completed, begetteth death.
Think about it. Imagine, say, that you have a profound weakness for chocolate but are giving it up for Lent. Then imagine that almost every person of the opposite sex you see is carrying boxes of chocolate just to tease you with, that every time you turn on the television you see luscious chocolate presented in the most sensous way. On every other billboard you pass and every magazine you see, there is that chocolate in full-color glossy print, photographed precisely to tempt you. This is life for many, especially men, in our sex-saturated culture. Don’t add to the problem; keep the words of St. John Chrysostom (A.D. 347 – 407) in mind:
You carry your snare everywhere and spread your net in all places. You allege that you never invite others to sin. You did not indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and deportment and much more effectively than you could by your voice. When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges in court punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal portion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death-dealing drink and you are more criminal than those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.
On top of that, being sexy is often counterproductive. As soon as a woman makes herself sexy, she instantly makes all the men in the room more stupid and all the women more tetchy. That sounds like the kind of curse a bad fairy bestows on birth, rather than a task that makes upper-leg waxing worthwhile.
Yes, the woman who’s dressed to be sexy makes men stupid and women more tetchy. But that’s not all she does. She also imposes pressure on the women around her to also dress that way in order to compete for male attention. You can see the downard spiraling of this phenomenon by looking at how women dress in general these days as opposed to how they dressed seventy years ago. When some women start dressing like whores, other women feel pressured to not only do the same, but to “top” them, to be even “sexier,” and we’ve reached the point where there is not much lower we can go. Women walk around with bellies hanging out, decolletage revealed, and skirts “up to there.” And no one but the players are “better off” (by wordly standards) because of it.
Women who dress like whores are traitors to their sex in that they create a social climate that does not benefit other women. The young, “hot” chick reading this might think, “well, that’s their problem! I look good, and men want me!” Well, sister, what do they want you for? To marry you — or something else? You might be able to get away with this sort of deportment for now, but when you start to age, put on a few pounds, and get a wrinkle or two, it’s all over – and that day comes a lot more quickly that you realize. What will you have built for yourself when your sexiness is gone? And if you ever do get married, do you want other women to be visually treating your husband by being dressed around him the way you are dressed now? Is this the sort of world you want to live in — a world in which growing older is terrifying, in which you’re always pressured to be “hot” no matter your age lest your husband be vamped away by some chick in a mini skirt?
We women are the gatekeepers (see The Garbage Generation on this site), and we have a very serious interest in keeping the price of sex high — if not for ourselves, which is reason enough, then for our daughters who will come after us. Do you want your daughters to be pressured into dressing like sluts? Then stop dressing like one yourself. Cultural change has to start somewhere; let it start with you. It is the right thing to do, and even a non-Christian can think in terms of Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” In other words, if God’s desires for us aren’t enough for you to think seriously about morality, such as modesty, then, before deciding to do something (or not), ask yourself what the world would be like if everyone were to do (or refrain from doing) that act. Would you rather live in a world where everyone, including your future daughters, dressed like sluts or a world in which people dressed modestly? Dress accordingly.
Just because a Catholic shouldn’t dress “sexy” for strangers doesn’t mean that we should look ugly and boring! Clothing with brilliant color and texture, wonderfully cut, accessorized and worn by a nicely groomed person — this is a good thing!
How modesty and beauty are reflected in our clothing is a matter of personal taste and ethnic identity. With regard to female fashions, you can find perfectly modest women dressed in clothes with a modern Western cut, all in the latest colors and with the latest accessories. You can find others in beautiful historical styles — e.g., drop-waist and cloche hat 1920s styles; sumptuously-colored fabrics shaped into long skirts; or clothes that are considered fashionably “retro,” such as what Jacqueline Kennedy might have worn. Others prefer a more “Bohemian,” peasant, “Gypsy,” “Goth,” or ethnic look (think of some of the beautiful outfits Stevie Nicks used to wear). And what is more beautiful than those gorgeous saris worn by Indian women? Some modest Christian women in the Middle East might look more like Muslims than typical Western Christians. Still other modest women like a “preppy,” “tweedy” look such as what the Princess of Wales would have worn when she was still Lady Diana, an upper-crust English schoolteacher. Some look really hard to find clothes from the latest designers that fit all the right criteria for modesty, and talented women might make their own patterns, with their own styles.
The point is that there is no need to believe that we all have to look like cookie-cutter, calico-laden “Little House on the Prairie refugees” with “Peter Pan collars” and tent-like skirts (Christ, spare us!). No! It is good to dress attractively! Proverbs 31:22 speaks of the “valiant woman” as being attired in “tapestry, fine linen, and purple.” Psalm 45 speaks of the “the Queen” in “gilded clothing.” Apocalypse 21:2 speaks of the Church as a bride “adorned for her husband.” Queen Esther, a type of Our Lady, is described as an “exceeding fair” woman whose “incredible beauty made her appear agreeable and amiable in the eyes of all” (Esther 2:15). Pope Pius XII wrote in an address to the Latin Union of High Fashion that the “penchant for the adornment of one’s own person clearly derives from nature, and is therefore legitimate.”
No, there is nothing wrong with adorning oneself and being attractive! As we Italians would say, it is good to “fare una bella figura!” — to “make a good showing” by making things beautiful! Why allow something to be unattractive when it could just as easily or with little effort be lovely? (this Italian attitude goes to everything — one’s home, clothes, dinner table, etc.)
Indeed, clothing should not only be comfortable, suitable to the task, and modest, but there is also nothing wrong with a girly-type woman wanting to look feminine relative to the culture in which she finds herself (assuming the culture in question has reasonable views of feminity). Know, though, that this is not a call to unreasonably exaggerate the differences between the sexes, to do the fashion equivalent of bringing back fainting couches, or for women to feign stupidity and an unnatural fragility; rather, it’s a call for girly-type women to be more genuine and to dress in a manner more consistent with their inner beings — and more likely to help them fulfill their deepest desires, which aren’t one-night-stands, but respect and a beautiful family life. When women go about consciously acting “like men,” dressing “like men,” training their emotions to be more “cool like a man’s,” quashing their fertility so they can be promiscuous “like men,” and so on, they are being male impersonators and untrue to themselves.
The “masculine” has for too long been seen as the standard of desired behavior; in the name of radical “feminism,” all that is feminine has been treated as unimportant. The typical natural, womanly desires — to be respected, and, for most, to be mothers, to stay home and raise our children, to care for a home and a husband — have been scoffed at as evidence of “Cinderella complexes” or simple weakness. Catholic women and the naturally virtuous, traditional women of false religions (may they come to Jesus) must not accept such a state of affairs!
We are not all the same, of course, and there are great overlaps in masculine and feminine behaviors. Some women are called to marriage, others to the religious life, and others to virginity, with or without a secular career, like the brilliant Maria Gaetana Agnesi (A.D. 1718-1799), whom Pope Benedict XIV appointed as the Chairwoman of higher mathematics at the University of Bologna in A.D. 1750. Some women are natural so-called “tomboys” and others are the frilly sort. We have role models as diverse as the perfectly maternal Blessed Virgin; the fiery St. Joan of Arc; the lyrical St. Hildegaard von Bingen; the philosophical St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross; the artistic St. Catherine of Bologna; the mystical St. Teresa of Avila; the feisty St. Catherine of Siena; the industrious St. Frances Cabrini; the bookish St. Catherine of Alexandria; the domestic St. Martha; the been-around, penitent St. Mary Magdalen; and the child-like St. Thérèse of Lisieux — among many others! We can model ourselves after any or all of these types of women, but we are, thank God, not men and never will be. The denigration of the feminine must end.
Because pants had been, historically, in the West, a male article of clothing, you will find that sometraditional Catholic women in the West never wear pants, or only wear them when working in the yard, riding horses, skiing, or some such. Given the History of Western dress and the desire on the part of some traditionalists for a more apparent distinction in the sexes’ visual styles, some tradition-minded men tend to treat women with more appreciation when those women dress in a way considered by them to be feminine.
On the other hand with regard to pants, it is a fact that pants-wearing for women has been an accepted practice for some decades in the West, and pants are now made and sold for women and are, therefore “women’s clothing” (to those men who disagree, I challenge them to go buy a pair of pants for themselves from the women’s department of the nearest store). In the end, it is to each woman to prayerfully discern how to dress, and when and where, considering and respecting the feelings of her husband, if she has one. And it is to others to refrain from harsh judgments against those who might have come to different conclusions (or who simply can’t find or afford a wardrobe they themselves think would be more fitting); it’s very unwise to make the shunning of pants the sine qua non of orthodoxy. In fact, Pope St. Nicholas I, way back in A.D. 866, wrote to the newly Christianized Bulgarians, the females of whom wore pants, and said, “For whether you or your women wear or do not wear pants (femoralia) neither impedes your salvation nor leads to any increase of your virtue.” 1
There are everyday benefits to dressing modestly, too, especially for women. Consider this: who is free and who is in bondage — the woman who sees herself as part of a “chosen generation, a kingly priesthood” (I Peter 2:9) and dresses modestly to reflect that fact, or a woman who:
For all the supposed “liberation” and sense of “empowerment” dressing like hookers is supposed to give us, in truth it turns us into a nation of obsessive, shallow, suffering anorexics who attract men who like hookers!
Will dressing sexy get you attention? Sure it will. And walking around an A.A. meeting with a case of beer will get you attention, too; there’s no great trick in appealing to the weakness of others. But the attention gotten is that of those who are either not Christian at all, or who are weak and prone to sins of the flesh. Is that the kind of attention you truly want? Is someone who wants you because you look “hot” the kind of person you want to marry? Is he the kind of person you’d trust in a marriage — to not commit adultery, to not leave you when you get a wrinkle or gain a few pounds? Is he the kind of person you want to even be the parent of your children? Is he the kind of person you want to grow oldwith?
On all levels — the theological, the sociological, the psychological, even in terms of simple comfort — dressing modestly is the smart thing to do. If you are called to the religious life or virginal singlehood, your path is easy to see. If you are called to marriage, dress now for the kind of person you want to marry; dress as the kind of person your ideal spouse would want for a mate, and keep the gift of yourself holy for that person alone. If you are already married, dress as you and your spouse want behind closed doors, but keep that gift for him or her alone.
Stand straight and ask yourself: Does the outfit cover my upper legs? Is the neckline decent? Are there any gaps or puckers over the breast area to indicate the top is too tight? If the top has buttons, is there any puckering so that my breasts might be visible from the side? Is the outfit too sheer so that one can see too much through the fabric?
Bend over at the waist as if you’re picking a flower. Ask yourself: does the neckline of the outfit droop to expose too much of my chest? If I wear such an outfit anyway, would I remember to hold the fabric close to my chest when I bend over? Am I decent from behind? Am I able to bend over comfortably?
Look at the overall picture in the mirror. Ask yourself: If I saw a woman walking toward me dressed as I am, what would I say her clothes are saying about her? Is she immodest? Unappreciative of beauty?
Men, no matter what a woman around you wears, you are ultimately responsible for your own lust. Attraction and simply recognizing the beauty or even the “sexiness” of a woman are one thing, but lust is something you consent to, indulge in. It is an act of the will. While the women around you can make purity more or less difficult for you, and while provocation is one of the nine ways we are responsible for others’s sins, it is still your responsibility to, first, not think of women as mere visual objects or stumblingblocks put in your way. Women are human beings who deserve human respect and need to be brought to Jesus if they don’t already know Him; they are your sisters or potential sisters in Lord Christ. Do not blame them for your failures, for your lack of purity of mind and heart. Don’t think that wrapping women in burqas will save you, for it is “not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man: but what cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” Don’t put the onus of your chastity on them. I implore you to read “The Story of Two Monks” and ponder what I am saying.
Secondly, reassess the kind of women you give your attention to and whom you allow to shape — even if pre-consciously but powerfully — your idea of “the feminine ideal.” For the love of all that’s holy, put away the porn.
And don’t think that the idea of dressing modestly doesn’t apply to you, too. Women are attracted to and lust after men just as men are attracted to and lust after women. If you think women aren’t noticing your strong arms and gorgeous thighs, you’re wrong and have an idea of women as “visually sexless” which isn’t true in the least. This section has mostly been devoted to women because of crazy state of women’s fashions, the incredible social pressure on women to look “hot,” and the fact that men, as a group, tend to be more visual and more sexually “immediate”; it isn’t aimed at female modesty because only men are capable of lust.
Finally, it is hoped that you try to have some pity for women and an understanding of the tightrope they walk while simultaneously wanting to attract and please you, wanting to be modest and Godly, feeling intensely pressured to compete with women who don’t dress modestly and who seem to get all the male attention — and enduring all this while struggling to find non-frumpy, modest clothing in the first place, something that is hard to do these days and which is much more difficult for women who are large-busted and need special sizes. And speaking of women who are just naturally curvy, don’t talk about their very bodies as something they should be ashamed of. Women have breasts and hips, some more than others; that’s how God made them. Women shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed of being women just because you find them attractive. There’s not much one can do to hide the fact that one has large breasts.
In the end, women need to play their part in all this by loving and respecting men, being accepting of the natural general differences between the sexes, reminding themselves that we are our brother’s keeper, and then dressing accordingly, within reason and while considering comfort, beauty, and the demands of their duties; men need to play their part by owning their own sins, mastering their own temptations, eliminating any “porn mentality” they might have, minding their own modesty, and developing a basic respect for women that cuts through much of the problem of lust.
“We consider what you asked about pants (femoralia) to be irrelevant; for we do not wish the exterior style of your clothing to be changed, but rather the behavior of the inner man within you, nor do we desire to know what you are wearing except Christ — for however many of you have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ [Gal. 3:27] — but rather how you are progressing in faith and good works. But since you ask concerning these matters in your simplicity, namely because you were afraid lest it be held against you as a sin, if you diverge in the slightest way from the custom of other Christians, and lest we seem to take anything away from your desire, we declare that in our books, pants (femoralia) are ordered to be made, not in order that women may use them, but that men may. But act now so that, just as you passed from the old to the new man, [cf. Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10] you pass from your prior custom to ours in all things; but really do what you please. For whether you or your women wear or do not wear pants (femoralia) neither impedes your salvation nor leads to any increase of your virtue.
“Of course, because we have said that pants are ordered to be made, it should be noted that we put on pants spiritually, when we restrain the lust of the flesh through abstinence; for those places are constrained by pants in which the seats of luxury are known to be. This is why the first humans, when they felt illicit motions in their members after sin, ran into the leaves of a fig tree and wove loin cloths for themselves.[cf. Gen. 3:7] But these are spiritual pants, which you still could not bear, and, if I may speak with the Apostle, you are not yet able; for you are still carnal.[I Cor. 3:2] And thus we have said a few things on this matter, although, with God’s gift, we could say many more.”